JOE DUNSTAN fired a hat trick as Dalton Dynamoes scored a 6-4 home win against rivals Kirkburton in the RCD Under 17 Division I.
Both sides are pushing hard for league honours this season, and that was reflected in the match at Bradley Park.
Kirkburton have done well to stay among at the top sides of Division 1B as they’re having to turn out each week with a threadbare squad.
Manager David Parkin explained: “We have a squad of 14 but, with injuries and other commitments, it’s a struggle to find a full team every week.
“We’ve tried advertising for players without success but, we’ve done well so far and we’ll keep going.”
Unfortunately, Parkin’s team were not about to get any sympathy from Dalton – who operate in Division I A, and who took command from the start with Oliver Scott and Daniel Lockwood forcing Kirkburton’s Ben Ellam, Oliver Knight, George and Jack Sommerville into some serious defending.
Luke Jackson created the first chance of the game with a cross to the edge of the area but Dunstan’s shot flew just wide of the mark.
Minutes later, Scott almost grabbed the opening goal for Dalton when he met a free kick at the far post, but his audacious chip shaved the top of the bar.
With Kirkburton pinned in their own half of the pitch and keeper Ben Scotcher the busiest player on the pitch, it was only a matter of time before Scott was again given too much time to line up a shot and, this time, the Dalton captain made no mistake from close range.
Despite Dalton’s total dominance of the opening 10 minutes, Kirkburton were back on level terms with their first attack of the game thanks to a terrific passing move between Troy Toulcher and Jack Neagle, which opened up space for Alex Goodliffe to fire home from 15 yards and make it 1-1.
Kirkburton’s goal had little effect on the flow of the game and the Dynamoes were soon back on the attack.
A free kick found the head of Lockwood, but the Dalton striker saw the first of a string of chances fly just over the bar. However, when Kirkburton failed to deal with a Daniel Simpson corner, the ball fell to Scott who netted his second of the game to restore Dalton’s lead.
Another Kirkburton break almost produced another equaliser but, from Toulcher’s run and cross, Warren Nixey’s volley skimmed the wrong side of a post.
Back at the other end, Lockwood wasn’t having any luck as keeper Scotcher pulled off two great stops to deny the striker – but Dunstan converted a penalty after Scotcher upended Lockwood to make it 3-1.
With Kirkburton failing to cause home defenders Ondre Adams, Aiden Donaghey, Harvey Morris and Joe McKevitt any real problems, the outcome of the game seemed inevitable when Dunstan struck his second five minutes before the break to increase Dalton’s advantage to three.
But Kirkburton were not finished yet and they were handed a lifeline when keeper Luke Connor’s lunge sent Nixey tumbling just inside the area. Nixey dispatched the resulting penalty and the visitors were back in the game at 4-2 down.
The second half started with another missed chance for Lockwood and then the game really came to life when Jack Sommerville netted a third for the visitors five minutes later.
Trailing just by one, Kirkburton suddenly had a belief and determination which had been lacking in their first half performance and, with 40 minutes still to play, the Dynamoes knew they had a game on their hands
With the game on a knife edge, tempers began to flair, resulting in a number of yellow cards being handed out.
In fact, the referee should be congratulated for his part in maintaining control, which made for a terrific game.
Even when Dunstan completed his hat trick to regain a two-goal advantage for the home side, Kirkburton retained their new-found confidence and Toulcher was rewarded for his workrate when he forced the ball in off a defender to reduce the deficit to 5-4.
The final goal, however, was scored by Dalton’s (so far) unlucky Lockwood who, for all his previous efforts, managed to find the net with the cheekiest of back heels.
Had Kirkburton played the first half with the same effort as the second, the scoreline might have taken on a different appearance.
But one thing everyone agreed on, including Kirkburton manager Parkin, was that it was a great game of football worthy of two sides hoping to land some silverware.